When it comes to stock market investments, the Methodist Church is the most centralised of any large UK denomination. Virtually all investments are held at a national level. The Central Finance Board (CFB) of the Methodist Church handles over £1bn of investments. It is not usual for local Methodist churches or circuits to hold investments in their own name.
This means that attempts to change the policies usually need to go through Methodist structures before reaching a national decision.
The CFB manages its investments through its in-house investment company, Epworth Investment (which also offers services to other churches and charities). Rather than using a “percentage” approach favoured by many denominations, the Methodists aim to assess each company individually.
However, they do rule out companies whose business is “wholly or mainly involved” in alcohol, arms, gaming, pornography or tobacco. They say they “engage and act to improve” performance on issues including the environment, corporate governance, children’s needs, safety and human rights. In 2013, they adopted a new policy on their expectations from companies operating in areas of armed conflict and human rights abuse.
Epworth have published policy and position papers on a range of ethical issues.